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Full text of "Mathematical And Physical Papers - Iii"

ON THE  CHANGE  OF REFRANGJBILITY  OF  LIGHT.
335
as described in Art. 110, but leaving out the additional small lens. The substance to be examined is placed in the condensed beam, and viewed through an absorbing medium which is approximately complementary to the former. This method is chiefly useful in examining a confused mass of various substances. The most minute fragments of sensitive substances show themselves in this manner.
Results obtained with a Linear Spectrum.
113. When this method is applied to the examination of common objects, it is found that the property of producing a change of refrangibility in the incident light is extremely common. Thus, wood of various kinds, cork, horn, bone, ivory, white shells, leather, quills, white feathers, white bristles, the skin of the hand, the nails, are all more or less sensitive. To make a list of sensitive substances would be endless work ; for it is very rare to meet with a white or light-coloured organic substance which is not more or less sensitive. I am not now speaking of organic substances obtained in a state of chemical isolation, of which some are sensitive and others insensible. That substances of a dark colour should frequently prove insensible is only what might have been expected, because the dispersed light is not reflected from the surface, but emanates from all points of a stratum of finite thickness; and in order that dispersed light should be forthcoming, it is necessary that the active light entering, and the dispersed light of a different refrangibility returning, should both escape absorption on the part of the colouring matter. Such substances usually consist of a mixture of various chemical ingredients, of which one or more may very likely be sensitive, in which case the substance may be compared to a solution of sulphate of quinine mixed with ink. Frequently however the colouring matter is itself sensitive.
Among sensitive substances I have mentioned the skin of the hand, which stands rather low in the scale. I have found the back of the hand a convenient test object. When the sunlight is not strong enough to show with ease the derived spectrum in the case of the hand, there is little use in attempting to observe.
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